Volunteerism and service improves lives in Ohio every minute of every day. The impact of everyday citizens who reach beyond themselves to help their neighbors and communities – transforming themselves and others – shapes who we are as a state. We give, we learn, we serve, we grow.
The ServeOhio Awards, made possible through support from the American Electric Power Foundation, recognize outstanding people, groups, and initiatives in each region of Ohio who make great contributions to their communities through service and volunteerism. A cash award of $1,000 is issued to support the organization which benefited from the winner’s service.
2021 Award Recipients
Helping Hands Facebook Group, Seneca County
The Helping Hands in Seneca County Facebook group was founded in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 175 people offered their help to make face masks and coordinate delivery to many organizations, and as of November 10, 2020, they created 54,240 masks and had grown their following to more than 5,600 members. Strangers became friends through the group and created a community to help others.
Jim Vermilyea, Graytown
Jim Vermilyea has spent countless hours working with and for Salem Lutheran Church and the neighborhood around this ministry in Toledo’s North End, which is an area that has a high concentration of generational poverty. From regularly contributing and serving food at Salem Lutheran Church’s Tuesday community meals to gathering furniture for the church and the Lucas County Family Council to donate to those in need, he helps engage people from Ohio’s countryside counties to join him to improve social capital in different locales. Over the summer, Jim also built a pergola for a bus stop shelter and replaced window guards at Salem Lutheran Church. His compassion through serving as the vice president of the congregation at St. Peter’s Church in Martin and bringing homemade peanut brittle to neighbors around the holidays shows his kind spirit.
Christine Lakus, Mentor
For nine years, Christine Lakus has volunteered at all four "campuses" of Holden Forests & Gardens, accumulating 2,000 lifetime hours. Christine, known as “Chris,” has assisted in support and leadership roles for events at the Cleveland Botanical Garden; banded bluebirds, monitored trails and manned the Visitor Center and Welcome Desk at the Holden Arboretum; provided tours at the David G. Leach Research Station and enhanced HF&G’s offsite and virtual campuses by offering nature enrichment activities at local libraries, making weekly phone calls to shut-in volunteers and posting weekly contributions to the volunteer Facebook group that she founded as a member of the Communication Task Force. In addition to her incredible dedication to service, Chris’s infectious energy and sense of community make her a natural team-builder and lifelong learner at HF&G.
Sycamore Youth Center, Steubenville
At the Sycamore Youth Center, 250 students from all grades attend classes in art, dance, sewing, cooking, auto repair and more after school. This is possible due to the 62 volunteer staff members who provide these classes free of charge, in addition to paying for their own supplies, cleaning up the center and distributing 500 meals each week to students to have over the weekend. The staff provides more than 50,000 volunteer hours each year to help provide impoverished students with the extracurricular education and supplies they need.
Glenn Dickey, Westerville
Throughout 2020, Glenn Dickey creatively found a way to safely engage volunteers in the woodshop at the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio through developing a series of video instructions for coffee tables and kitchen tables that volunteers can build alone and either watch before coming to the woodshop or during an off-site build. Both methods limited the contact between volunteers and Furniture Bank staff, keeping people safe and willing to help. Since the return of volunteers, the Furniture Bank has built 200 pieces of needed furniture and engaged 41 other volunteers, due to Glenn’s flexibility and 267 hours donated in 2020.
Roni McCurdy, Dublin
Roni McCurdy is a volunteer who selflessly champions for those in need at the Bridge Community Center. For the food pantry, she obtains and organizes food and supplies, fundraises, collects donations, cooks, guides and directs volunteers, and serves individuals and families in the community. She works closely with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and the Sam’s Club Distribution Center in Groveport to collect donations of damaged packages. During COVID-19, she has organized drive-up lines for volunteers to load pantry items into cars and orchestrated a Christmas event where 1,000 gifts were distributed to support families in central Ohio.
Evan Osgood, Loveland
When Evan Osgood recognized a need in his community to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic, he founded SOS for PPE, a nonprofit producing PPE for people in need with a 6,500-person volunteer network. To date, SOS for PPE has distributed over 300,000 items of PPE and impacted the lives of more than 450,000 people. Evan, a high school sophomore, used his engineering skills to sew facemasks and create face shields in his 3D printer, and he founded his organization remotely by compiling volunteers to put together PPE through assembly kits. His measurable change has saved lives and reduced the spread of COVID-19 in a year of uncertainty.
Raye Kimberlin, Lebanon
The Martin Luther King Coalition of Lebanon works to honor Dr. King’s vision of justice by building an inclusive network of individuals and organizations working toward empowerment for all people, and Raye Kimberlin has been an active member since it began 10 years ago. Raye has held multiple positions in the organization, now serving as the elected coordinator and president. In addition, Raye has been advocating for the creation of a Human Relations Commission for the City of Lebanon where she has spent many hours attending city council meetings and providing input in guiding the city toward its recent “Resolution Denouncing Racism". She also serves as the Secretary of the Board of Festivals and Tourism for the City of Lebanon for over 8 years. Raye proactively developed a “Giving Tuesday” project that included numerous local non-profit organizations. She is the representative from MLK Lebanon to the Lebanon City Schools Parents Equity Group. Her dedication across the community to combat systemic racism and create service opportunities honoring Dr King’s legacy is important to continue education in southwest Ohio.
Buckeye Trail Association, Shawnee
The Buckeye Trail Association (BTA) is a volunteer-led nonprofit founded in 1959 that creates and maintains the Buckeye Trail, a statewide hiking trail spanning over 1,400 miles. On average, BTA volunteers from across Ohio donate 10,000 hours per year to maintain and market the trails, recruit volunteers and help run special events. BTA volunteers also host many training opportunities for conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts, including National Park Service-standard trail building trainings, first aid, and sessions that empower community members to adopt their own section of the trail and to recruit and mobilize volunteers. The BTA is an invaluable partner in the work of community building and active citizenship in the region.
LouAnn Drummond, Clarksburg
LouAnn Drummond has volunteered with COAD/RSVP of the Ohio Valley since June 2017 when she developed a weekend food backpack program for Adena Local Schools. This effort led to her assistance with multiple projects helping to address food insecurity in southeastern Ohio, including the Rural Delivery Meals program serving over 500 children weekly and the Farmers to Families Food Box program receiving 1,248 boxes of food per week to distribute across Ross County. Her tenacity to continue providing food during COVID-19 has resulted in a distribution of over 32,476 food boxes and bags, providing 458,444 meals to families in rural Appalachia.